There are many reasons why employers should take the time to update their manuals at least once a year. However, many employers, including those in the construction industry, underestimate the benefits that a current, legally compliant manual can have, and unfortunately having an outdated manual can be just as risky as not having one. have at all.
1. Regularly review your textbook
Textbooks should be revised at least once a year. Employment laws, especially those at the state and local level, are constantly evolving, requiring a consistent review of policies to ensure notice requirements are met and laws are properly reflected . For example, Virginia has legal requirements that information about disability and pregnancy accommodations must be contained in the employer’s manual. In addition, if you are a federal contractor, you may have additional requirements imposed by the decrees (for example, pay transparency notice requirements). National and local sick leave laws, harassment policy requirements, marijuana legalization laws, policies that have been permanently affected due to COVID-19 (for example, remote or telecommuting policies), are just a few recent reasons to check your manual this year to see if it needs updating. Also, if you have employees who work in more than one state (including those who work remotely), you’ll want to make sure that your manual meets each state’s requirements.
2. Make sure the policies accurately reflect real life and are easy to understand.
In addition to informing employees of their rights, manuals can be useful tools for employers to demonstrate why certain actions have been taken regarding employee conduct and performance, but this is only true if the policies are correct. . If there are differences in policies from one job site to another, for example, the policies in the manual may need to be adapted in the same way. Likewise, if the policies in the manual are to be used to demonstrate that employees know the expectations and the rules, the policies must be written in a way that is easy for employees to understand. You don’t want there to be any doubt about what was expected. This information can be useful in claims and disputes related to unemployment and accidents at work, as well as in the process of adaptation. However, if the policies are inaccurate and do not reflect current practices and expectations or are incomprehensible, they may in fact be detrimental to the employer.
3. Be able to demonstrate that the employee has received the manual
You can have the best manual, but it means nothing if the employer cannot demonstrate that it has been provided or accessible to the employee. It is important to keep a signed and dated paper trail when the employee receives the manual and waits for them to familiarize themselves with it. In addition, some national and local laws require recognition of certain policies. The integration should also take into account the manual with a record of this. Since many employees in the construction industry only work in the field, it is even more important to ensure that employees physically acknowledge receipt, as they do not show up at a physical facility every day. company, where copies can be kept, nor do they always have electronic access to digital manuals on company intranets.
4. Train management on the policies of the manual
Make sure your management team is aware of and has been trained on the policies of the manual to provide consistent application and interpretation. A court may seek to determine whether a supervisor can articulate the expectations and requirements of the business and, if not, it may decide that the employee should not be held accountable for those standards either.
5. Legal review is essential
Finally, be sure to have your manual reviewed by legal counsel before it is finalized. Manuals are not universal and it is important to ensure that they all meet legal requirements before distributing them to your employees.
Ultimately, not updating your manual properly can expose an employer to liability. Updating a manual might not be your favorite task, but employers can really benefit from making it an annual exercise.
Jackson Lewis PC © 2021Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 181